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COVID cleaners won’t return to New Brunswick schools this fall

Click to play video: 'COVID cleaners won’t return to New Brunswick schools this fall' COVID cleaners won’t return to New Brunswick schools this fall
WATCH ABOVE: About 150 people who helped keep schools clean amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year will not be rehired this fall, New Brunswick’s education department has confirmed. As Global’s Nathalie Sturgeon reports, bus drivers will also have reduced cleaning protocols – Aug 29, 2021

About 150 workers with CUPE local 1253, who were helping keep schools clean amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will not be rehired this fall, the education department has confirmed.

Iris Lloyd, president of the CUPE local 1253, said she was made aware those workers would not be returning in September.

Read more: Back to school, back to normal? Comparing COVID-19 school plans in Atlantic Canada

“We are learning now that there will be none of those COVID cleaners, so that has been a concern for 1253,” she said speaking to reporters Friday. “There is a little bit of concern on our end as in are we going to be able to get the job done and keep them as safe as we did last year.”

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Bus drivers have also had reduced cleaning protocols. Lloyd explained drivers are expected to clean and disinfect after the first run of the day and again at the end of the day. Now, it will only happen at the end of the day.

Read more: CUPE marches on the N.B. legislature as talks resume next week

The Department of Education released its back-to-school plan on Aug. 20. It said additional measures included in that plan place a greater focus on the products used to clean and disinfect than on cleaning schedules.

“As a result, the need for additional resources to meet the needs of students, such as hiring additional custodians, has been reduced,” department spokesperson Flavio Nienow said in an email.

Click to play video: 'Easing the anxiety as back-to school approaches' Easing the anxiety as back-to school approaches
Easing the anxiety as back-to school approaches – Aug 25, 2021

The plan does require students in K-9 and high school to wear masks in common areas but not in classrooms. This year students will not be cohorted as they were last year, according to the plan.

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Read more: COVID-19: Students up to Grade 8 to wear masks in N.B. back-to-school plan

Dr. Abdu Sharkawy said in a previous interview that not requiring children to wear masks in uncohorted areas flies in the face of the evidence Public Health should have learned over the past several months.

“It’s mindboggling to me that at this point in time in a pandemic that has already cost millions of lives around the world that something as simple as masking is determined to be too high of a cost to incur even with very young kids,” he said.

Children under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccination against COVID-19. On Friday, Public Health said it “strongly” recommended New Brunswickers wear masks indoors less than a month after it lifted all restrictions.

New Brunswick Public Health recently announced 14 cases of community transmission — which means they cannot be traced back to a previous infection.

There are three cases of the Delta variant and 74 of the Alpha, at last count. There are no case counts or updates provided on the weekends.

Click to play video: 'Children going back to school without masks, COVID-19 vaccine will fuel Delta variant: study' Children going back to school without masks, COVID-19 vaccine will fuel Delta variant: study
Children going back to school without masks, COVID-19 vaccine will fuel Delta variant: study – Aug 25, 2021

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